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cious SOCIETY? Our Language wants a great many Words and Phrases. Nay I cannot but think that within these hundred Years, it has been cramp’t and impoverish't by refining it. 'Twas then fomewhat unpolish't indeed, and too verbofe : but we regret the Loss of the old Language, when we find it in the Works of MAROT, AMIOT, the Cardinal D'OSSAT; in the most humorous Writings, as well as in the inost serious. It had something in it very short, simple, bold, lively, and affecting. If I mistake not we have thrown out more words than we have taken in. Now I wou'd have none loft; but new ones introduc'd. I wou'd have
Word authoriz'd, that we want, if it sound sweetly, and be not ambiguous.
When we carefully examine the Signification of Words, we perceive there are fcarce any two that have exactly the same Meaning. We find very many that do not point-out an Object distinctly enough, unless we add a fecond Word. Hence comes the frequent Use of Circumlocutions; which oblige us to use several Words to express one Idea. It wou'd be proper to abridge our Language, by fixing one plain proper Word to express every Obječt, every Sentiment, and every Action, I wou'd even have several
synonymous Terins for one Thing. This is the way to avoid all Ambiguity; to vary our Expressions; and to inake them all liarmonious : seeing we might easily chuse out of several fynonymous Words, that which runs smootheft with the rest of the Period.
The Greeks had a great Number of these compounded Words; such as Pantocrator, Glaucopis, Eucnemides, &ic. And tho' the Latins were more reservod in this point, they imitated the Greeks a-little; as in Lanifica, Malesuada, Pomifer, &c. This way of compounding Words made their Language concise, and their Verses more magnificent. Besides, the Greeks freely us’d several Dialects in the same Poem ; to inake their Versification more various and easy. The Latins enrich't their Tongue with such Foreign Words as they needed. For instance, they wanted some Terms that were proper for Philosophy, which began at Rome very late. So when they learn't Greek they borrow'd it's Terms to argue upon the Sciences. TULLY who was nicely scrupulous about the Purity of his Language, very freely us'd such Greek Terms as he needed. A Greek Word, when first us'd, was reckon'd uncouth : however some beg'd leave to use it : and then the
Permission they obtain'd, soon turn'd into Custom, and made it current Latin.
I am inform'd that the* ENGLISH refuse no Words that fit their Purpose ;
* I hope it will not be thought a vain Digression, if I Step a-little aside to recommend to the Gentlemen of our Nam tion, the forming of such an Assembly, (as the French ACADEMr.) i know indeed that the English Genius is not so airy and discoursive, as that of some of our Neighbours į but that we generally love to have Reason set-out in plain undeceiving Expressions; as much as they to have it deliver'd with Colour and Beauty. And besides this, I uno derstand well enough that they have one great Asistance to the Growth of Oratory, which to us is wanting ; that is, that their Nobility live commonly close together in their citrys; and ours for the most part scatter'd in their CountryHouses -- whereas it is from the frequent Conversations in Citys, that the Humour, and wit, and Variety and Elegance of Language, are chiefly to be fetch't. But yet notwithstanding these Discouragements I shall not stick to say that such a PROJECT is now seasonable to be set on-foot ; and
may make a great Reformation in the Manner of our Speaking and Writing. First, the Thing it-self is no way contemptible. For, the Purity of Speech, and Greatness of Empire, have in all Countrys still met together. The Greeks Spoke best when they were in their Glory of Conqueft. The Romans made those Times the Standard of their Wit, when they subdu'd, and gave Laws to the World : And from thence by degrees they declinod to Corruption; as their valour, their Prudence, and the Honour of their Arms did decay : and at last did even meet the Northern Nations half-way in Barbarism, a little before they were over-run by their Armys.
But besides, if we observe well the English Language, we shall find, that it seems at this time more than others, to require some such Aid, to bring it to its laft Perfection The Truth is, it has been hitherto a little too carelessly handled ; and, I think, has had lefs Labour spent about its polifbing, than it deserves. Till the Time of King Henry the Eighth, there was scarce any Man regarded it but Chaucer ; and nothing was written in it which one wou'd be willing to read twice, - but some of his Poetry. But then it began
but borrow freely from any of their Neighbours. Such a Prađice is very allowable. In this Cafe, mere Use makes a Language common to all Men. Words are but Sounds that we arbitrarily use to express our Thoughts : and these Sounds are in themselves of no Value. All People have the same Right to use them, What matter is it then, whether a Word belongs originally to our Language, or comes from a foreign Country? It wou'd be very
childish to take any Exception at such a Trifle as the Manner of moving our Lips, and shaking the Air.
Besides, we have no Pretence for inlisting upon this false Point of Honour.
to raise it-Self a-little, and to found tolérably well. From that Age down to the beginning of our late Civil Wars, it was still fashioning and beautifying it-self. In the Wars themselves it receiv'd many fantastical Terms, which were introduc'd by our Religious Sects; and many outa landish Phrases, which several Writers and Translators, in that great Hurry brought in and made free as they pleas'd; and withal it was inlarg’d by many sound and necessary Forms, and Idioms which it before wanted. And now when Men's Minds are somewhat settled, their Passions allay'ds and the Peace of our Country gives us the oppora tunity of such Diversions ; if some sober and judicious Men wou'd take the whole Mass of our Language into their Hands, as they find it, and wou'd set a Mark on the ill Words ; correct those which are to be retaind ; admit and establish the good ; and make some Emendations in the Aca cent, and Grammar : I dare pronounce that our Speech wou'd quickly arrive at as much plenty, as it is capable te receive ;
and at the greatest Smoothness, which its Derivas tion from the rough Gerinan will allow it.
History of the Royal Society, p. 41, 42
Our Language is only a Mixture of Greek, Latin, and Teutonick, with some confus’d Reinains of the Gaulis. Now feeing the main Stock of it is borrow'd from other Tongues; why shou'd we, through a groundless Shame, deny ourselves the Liberty of borrowing what Words we still want to enrich our Language? We ought to take from all Quarters, whatever we need to render it more clear, more exact, more harinonious, and more concise : for all Circumlocution weaken's a Discourse.
'Tis true the Choice of such Words as ought to be authoriz’d, shou'd be left to Persons of a just Taste and approv'd Difcernment. Latin Words seem to be fittest for this purpose : For, they found agreeably; and depend on other Words, that are already French. People's Ears are accustom'd to them : there's but one Step wanting to make them current; and that is, their having an agreeable Terinination given them. When the introducing of new Words is left to Chance, or to ignorant People, or the Fancys of Women; they admit several Terms that are neither so clear, nor so finooth as were to be with't. I own that if without a prudent deliberate Choice, we shou'd hastily adopt a great Number of foreign Words, we Thou'd make our Language a confus’d